MasterChef Swiss alpine -style

Justine Tyerman meets Iris Riatsch, the winner of Landfrauenküche, the Swiss alpine version of MasterChef, who shares her famous nut tart with the Weekender

Justine Tyerman meets Iris Riatsch, the winner of Landfrauenküche, the Swiss alpine version of MasterChef, who shares her famous nut tart with the Weekender

‘Iris Engadinerli’ served with eggnog parfait, fresh berries, peppermint and lavender ice cream, and dandelions.
Iris Riatsch grows all the produce she uses in her recipes in her garden in Vnà.
Fadri’s richly flavoursome cheese and salami, and locally-brewed beer.
Iris and her artwork.
Justine and Iris
Vnà is a tiny alpine village in the Lower Engadine in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.
Organic farmer Fadri Riatsch in his cheese room.

HIGH in the lush green meadows of the beautiful Engadine, I met a famous chef and television star. I was visiting an organic farm in Vnà, a tiny alpine village of 50 people in the Lower Engadine in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

The farmer, Fadri Riatsch, showed us around his impressive farming operation after which we sampled a delicious array of richly flavoursome cheese and salami made from his own cows’ milk and meat, and locally-brewed beer.

Fadri then introduced us to his mother, Iris Riatsch, who was helping his wife Daniela to serve the food. Iris just happened to be the winner of the Swiss Rural Woman of the Decade, a hugely popular MasterChef-type television show featuring country women and their recipes.

Iris was a delightful, modest lady of 64 who radiated warmth and good health. She spoke little English but our guide explained that she had won the annual competition many times and this year took the top prize at the 10th anniversary of the show.

Ten episodes of the show were filmed in her own kitchen so she has become accustomed to working under pressure in front of television cameras.

Originally from Zurich, Iris has lived at Vnà for 40 years and has a very close bond with the land. She keeps a large organic garden and attributes her success in the competition to the relationship she has with all the ingredients she uses in her recipes.

“It’s very important for me to know where the food and flavours come from — I grow all the vegetables and herbs I use in my recipes here in my own garden,” she says standing amid huge cabbages, potatoes, leeks, peas, brussel sprouts, carrots, spinach, artichokes and herbs.

The meat and dairy products she uses come from Fadri’s farm and the venison from her husband Domenic’s hunting expeditions.

Iris loves to cook but keeping the Engadine recipes alive is the main motivation for entering the competition. Many are traditional recipes she learned from her mother-in-law.

Her winning entry was a venison schnitzel dish with juniper berry sauce followed by a nut tart which has become quite famous.

Switzerland’s second biggest supermarket chain is promoting Iris’s recipes and her nut tart is marketed under her own name as ‘Iris Engadinerli’.

Michelin-star chefs are now lining up to learn from her.

Mother of four and grandmother of nine, Iris leads a busy life.

She runs cooking classes for children and teenagers so that she can pass on the Engadine recipes to the next generation.

Like most Swiss, Iris likes hiking so she combines two of her loves in one, cooking for hikers in one of the local alpine huts.

She rents out a small holiday flat under her house, a former cheese factory, to travellers who want to get back to nature and experience a week helping out on an organic farm.

And she’s an accomplished artist with a studio at her house. She sees food as an art form — ‘creating art on a plate’.

Engadinerli ingredients:

150g butter

150g sugar

1 egg

1 pinch of salt

300g flour

Filling Ingredients:

300g sugar

1 tbsp water

20mls cream

250g of walnuts

2 tbspns grated almonds

1 tbsp honey

Berry compote Ingredients:

2 tbspns liquid honey

2 tbspns orange juice

1 vanilla pod

400g fresh berries

Engadinerli Method

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Cover a flat baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and mix with the flour and a pinch of salt. Put the dough in a cool place for at least one hour. Form into a thin rectangular shape on the baking sheet, no more than 1cm thick.

For the filling, melt the sugar over a gentle heat, stir in a tablespoon of water. Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully add cream, nuts and honey and stir until smooth. Let cool down.

Spread the filling on the pastry and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees. The tart should be baked nice and light brown. Cut into rectangles when it is still warm.

Berry compote method:

For the berries, mix honey, orange juice and vanilla in a bowl. Carefully mix together with the berries. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Then warm gently in a pan carefully. Do not boil. You want the berries to retain their beautiful shape.

* Serve engadinerli with warm berry compote.

Recipe courtesy of Iris Riatsch

HIGH in the lush green meadows of the beautiful Engadine, I met a famous chef and television star. I was visiting an organic farm in Vnà, a tiny alpine village of 50 people in the Lower Engadine in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

The farmer, Fadri Riatsch, showed us around his impressive farming operation after which we sampled a delicious array of richly flavoursome cheese and salami made from his own cows’ milk and meat, and locally-brewed beer.

Fadri then introduced us to his mother, Iris Riatsch, who was helping his wife Daniela to serve the food. Iris just happened to be the winner of the Swiss Rural Woman of the Decade, a hugely popular MasterChef-type television show featuring country women and their recipes.

Iris was a delightful, modest lady of 64 who radiated warmth and good health. She spoke little English but our guide explained that she had won the annual competition many times and this year took the top prize at the 10th anniversary of the show.

Ten episodes of the show were filmed in her own kitchen so she has become accustomed to working under pressure in front of television cameras.

Originally from Zurich, Iris has lived at Vnà for 40 years and has a very close bond with the land. She keeps a large organic garden and attributes her success in the competition to the relationship she has with all the ingredients she uses in her recipes.

“It’s very important for me to know where the food and flavours come from — I grow all the vegetables and herbs I use in my recipes here in my own garden,” she says standing amid huge cabbages, potatoes, leeks, peas, brussel sprouts, carrots, spinach, artichokes and herbs.

The meat and dairy products she uses come from Fadri’s farm and the venison from her husband Domenic’s hunting expeditions.

Iris loves to cook but keeping the Engadine recipes alive is the main motivation for entering the competition. Many are traditional recipes she learned from her mother-in-law.

Her winning entry was a venison schnitzel dish with juniper berry sauce followed by a nut tart which has become quite famous.

Switzerland’s second biggest supermarket chain is promoting Iris’s recipes and her nut tart is marketed under her own name as ‘Iris Engadinerli’.

Michelin-star chefs are now lining up to learn from her.

Mother of four and grandmother of nine, Iris leads a busy life.

She runs cooking classes for children and teenagers so that she can pass on the Engadine recipes to the next generation.

Like most Swiss, Iris likes hiking so she combines two of her loves in one, cooking for hikers in one of the local alpine huts.

She rents out a small holiday flat under her house, a former cheese factory, to travellers who want to get back to nature and experience a week helping out on an organic farm.

And she’s an accomplished artist with a studio at her house. She sees food as an art form — ‘creating art on a plate’.

Engadinerli ingredients:

150g butter

150g sugar

1 egg

1 pinch of salt

300g flour

Filling Ingredients:

300g sugar

1 tbsp water

20mls cream

250g of walnuts

2 tbspns grated almonds

1 tbsp honey

Berry compote Ingredients:

2 tbspns liquid honey

2 tbspns orange juice

1 vanilla pod

400g fresh berries

Engadinerli Method

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Cover a flat baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and mix with the flour and a pinch of salt. Put the dough in a cool place for at least one hour. Form into a thin rectangular shape on the baking sheet, no more than 1cm thick.

For the filling, melt the sugar over a gentle heat, stir in a tablespoon of water. Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully add cream, nuts and honey and stir until smooth. Let cool down.

Spread the filling on the pastry and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees. The tart should be baked nice and light brown. Cut into rectangles when it is still warm.

Berry compote method:

For the berries, mix honey, orange juice and vanilla in a bowl. Carefully mix together with the berries. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Then warm gently in a pan carefully. Do not boil. You want the berries to retain their beautiful shape.

* Serve engadinerli with warm berry compote.

Recipe courtesy of Iris Riatsch

Justine travelled to Switzerland with Switzerland Tourism: www.myswitzerland.com

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